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SUNDAY RESTAURANT REVIEW – BASIL CAFE

I was wined and dined at the Basil Cafe in Saint James, New York yesterday by our good friends Ken, Bebe, and Will. This is a Persian and Mediterranean Restaurant. The restaurant is owned by a husband and wife.

From the the small exterior, you would never expect such capacious space for seating with their newly built outdoor patio just behind the restaurant.

This is a BYOB restaurant, so if you want wine, bring it; they even encourage it here. Jennifer, Sam, and I met Bebe, Ken, and Will here after Bebe had been raving about this place for well over a year or more. They were very excited to have us join them and share in their favorite North Shore restaurant.

The three of them were already seated and had not one but two bottles of Menage a Trois wine chilling in a ice bucket next to them. It is a terrific wine at about $10 a bottle. This is a Pinot Grigio that is very nice to drink on its own. I nonetheless was hungry and looking forward to dinner here.

I had this wine for the first time last night and it is very good.

Before we even ordered, the dish below was brought to our table.

This flat bread dish was a pesto, cheese and tomatoes combination that was delicious.

I don’t even think anyone even looked at the menus when the waitress was there asking if we wanted an appetizer. Having listened to Ken and Bebe’s tales of their culinary adventures here, we all knew, aside from Jennifer, what we were having to eat last night. Bebe’s favorite appetizer is the Hummus served with a lightly seasoned flat bread, carrot sticks, and celery, so we started with that. As usual, everyone loved it but me. I found that there was a bit too much Tahini in it for my taste, as I do not like the extra peanuttyness (my own word) that everyone else did. They however liked it so much I would recommend trying it. It did go excellent with the wine. We were so busy talking we didn’t even finish it, so Bebe had it wrapped up for us to take home.

,This is the hummus appetizer. Sorry, I didn’t notice Ken’s fingers before, as he reached for his wine glass.

Before the appetizer pictured above was gone, our waitress had returned; she was a lovely and affable woman, and came to take our dinner order. Bebe, Sam, and Will all ordered the Rack of Lamb and Basmati rice (non Jeweled). Ken and I both ordered the Lamb shank. They don’t always have this, so it is a true treat when they do. This also comes with a large portion of saffron rice, and we also did not get it “jeweled”. If I remember correctly, and I probably don’t, jeweled rice is where the chef adds sautéed onions and peppers to the top. I will try this next time. For now, I wanted to taste it the way Ken and Bebe enjoy it. Jen ordered the strip steak.

When our meals came to the table, they looked beautiful.

These dishes were ALL as good as they looked. I do not get to eat lamb as often as I would like, and this lived up to everything Ken had boasted about in previous conversations. It is probably no surprise I am constantly talking about food with family and friends, or to complete strangers for that matter. I had also tasted Sam’s rack of lamb and would certainly not have been disappointed if I had gone with that as an alternative. Jennifer offered me a piece of her steak but I declined, as I had enough on my plate already (pun intended).

Ken did not finish his lamb shank and carefully added it on top of his remaining rice with the perfectly cooked roasted broccoli on top. We both even ordered that same side dish. I could not help my gluttonous self and managed to finish the entire lamb shank but could not fit in all the rice and broccoli, as Bebe was insisting I must try the dessert.

The waitress wrapped up Jennifer’s half steak and Ken’s Lamb shank. Sam, Will, and Bebe all finished their rack of lamb entrées. Once the table was cleared, the waitress she took our dessert orders. Bebe ordered rice pudding, even though it was not on the menu. What was on the menu was a Poached Pear on rice pudding with a Chambord Liqueur reduction drizzled over the top. Sam ordered the bread pudding.

This was the most decadent and delicious thing I have eaten in months. It was not only exquisite to look at, but it tasted superb. If this is one of the chef’s family recipes, I am surprised he is aa svelte as he is. It must be all the hard work and long hours he puts in at this fine dining establishment keeping him so thin. I will certainly be going back with everything being this good. I will also have to try all new dishes next time. I may go with one of those fish specials as that is something I don’t get a chance to cook at home either. I can’t wait to try more of his cooking, and THAT’S a sign of a really really good restaurant. So don’t go there, otherwise I may not get a table. At lease don’t go there when I’m planning on being there, but do please help support this local and wonderfully owned little family operated restaurant. They truly do a magnificent job at making you an old fashioned yet sophisticated family meal you will remember!

When we finally got home, Sam promptly finished the hummus, carrots, and bread before going to bed.

Until next week. Eat well, stay healthy, and OH enjoy life!

The Drunken Chef (Russ)

SUNDAY RESTAURANT REVIEW – ONSEN SUSHI

Onsen Shushi

597 Montauk Highway

Oakdale, NY 11769

(631) 567-1688

Friday for lunch, six people ordered take out from Onsen Shushi in Oakdale and I went to go pick it up.

I had the three-roll lunch consisting of the spicy tuna roll, Alaska roll, and shrimp tempura roll. It also came with Miso soup and salad for $13.50. I started with the miso soup. Luckily for me, my office air-conditioning is pretty high so eating soup on a hot summer day at lunch time was not a problem. Next, I tried the Alaskan roll. There was salmon and avocado in it. It was very good. I had the Spicy tuna roll next. It included some “crunchies” in it and was very tasty. Then, I had the shrimp tempura roll. There was shrimp tempura, avocado, and red leaf lettuce in it. I suspect there was just a bit of sand on my red leaf lettuce. I tried two pieces of this roll and both had a gritty texture like a clam with sand in it. A coworker of mine had the same exact order as mine and he had no issue. Therefore, it was only my one roll that had this issue.

Two people ordered the two-roll lunch. They choose the tow California rolls, a Tokyo roll and a shrimp tempura roll. No issue with the shrimp tempura roll in that order. My boss ordered the three-roll lunch special too. He had the California roll, Boston roll, and fried sweet potato roll. He loved his lunch.

The last order was a three-roll lunch special and it included a Boston roll, spicy tuna roll, and a fried sweet potato roll. All delicious.

I ate most of the sushi but could not finish it. Lastly, I ate my salad with ginger dressing. It was good too.

Although I had an issue with the one sushi roll, I understand shit happens. Since no one else had an issue, I will try them again.

The only thing missing was a bottle of Bluefeld Riesling but we were still at work, so that will have to wait until my next sushi adventure!

Until next week, be well and be happy.

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FATHER’S DAY MEAT FEAST

Sorry this post is late. I took Monday off. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, here are my pictures. You should have many of the recipes by now to make all these dishes shown above. I will add the corn recipe of course, but I am not allowed to divulge my families secret barbeque sauce recipe for chicken, sorry. You also need a smoking how to article.


Did I have wine with all that food? Yes, both white and red wine were served. The white wine was Beldell Vineyards Viognier with the wings, their rose went well with the legs. Then, there was a St Francis old vines red Zinfandel for the ribs and burgers. I love this red Zinfandel.

Be well & eat well

The Drunken Chef (Russ)

Balsamic Vinaigrette

This is simply to go onto a Tossed Salad.

COOKING UTENSILS NEEDED

Cruet Bottle

Measuring spoons

INGREDIENTS:

1       cup Filippo Berio olive oil (yellow label)

¼      cup Modennaceti balsamic vinegar

2       tablespoons water

½      teaspoons lemon Juice

½      teaspoons sugar

¼      teaspoons Gulden’s Spicy Brown mustard

1/8    teaspoons garlic powder

1/8    teaspoons onion powder

1/8    teaspoons parsley

1/8    Salt

1/8    Black Pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Add dry ingredients to a cruet bottle. Add vinegar, water, olive oil, mustard and lemon juice.  Shake well.  Let stand for one hour for best taste.

Macaroni Salad

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound elbow macaroni
1 ½ cups mayonnaise
½ small red onion, minced
1 celery rib, chopped fine
¼ cup minced fresh parsley leaves
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
⅛ teaspoon garlic powder
1 pinch white pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Bring 4 quarts water to a boil in a large pot. Stir 1 tablespoon salt and the pasta into the boiling water and cook, stirring often, until nearly tender, about 5 minutes. Drain the pasta and rinse with cold water until cool, then drain shake and drain again. Transfer to a large bowl.

Stir in the onion, celery, parsley, mustard, garlic powder, and pepper and let sit until the flavors are absorbed, about 2 minutes. Add the mayonnaise and let sit until the salad is no longer watery, 5 to 10 minutes.

Baked Beans

COOKING UTENSILS NEEDED

Chef’s knife or Vegetable Chopper
Measuring Spoons
Liquid Measuring Cup
Wooden Spoon
2 quart casserole dish

INGREDIENTS:

4 slices bacon
1 onion, diced
2 (28 ounce) cans baked beans
3 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons prepared mustard
1/2 cup ketchup
3/4 cup brown sugar

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place bacon and onions in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Drain and set aside.

In a large bowl combine beans, molasses, mustard, ketchup, brown sugar, onions and crumbled bacon. Mix well and transfer to a 2 quart casserole dish.

Bake in preheated oven, covered, for 1 hour. Uncover and bake for 1 hour more.

Cold Slaw

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup Mayonnaise
¼ cup Water
1 tbsp. Cider Vinegar
¼ cup Powdered Sugar
Salt
White pepper
1 tsp. Celery salt
1 head of shredded cabbage

DIRECTIONS:

Trim off outer leaves. Cut cabbage into quarters, but cut out the core of the cabbage. Shred on mandolin, or with a chef’s knife.

In an extra large Tupperware like bowl, add shredded cabbage and the rest of the ingredients. Mix until well blended. Cover with lid and refrigerate overnight before serving. Cold slaw will keep for five days.

Serve with a Buffalo Chicken Sandwich or at BBQ’s

Potato Salad

COOKING UTENSILS NEEDED

Chef’s knife, Large Pot Measuring spoons, Vegetable peeler

INGREDIENTS:

5 lbs. of Potatoes (white skinned potatoes)
2 cup Mayonnaise
2 teaspoon cider Vinegar
1 teaspoon prepared mustard (optional) 2 tablespoons finely chopped onion (optional) 2 tablespoons finely chopped carrot (optional) 1 teaspoon sugar (optional) 1/2 teaspoon paprika
Parsley Garnish (chopped)
Salt
White pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Cook peeled potatoes for 15 to 20 minutes. Cool overnight in refrigerator.

In a large bowl, mix together thinly sliced potatoes, mayo, vinegar, sugar, mustard, parsley, salt, and pepper. Chill in the fridge overnight. The next day taste and adjust seasoning (add mayo, salt, etc.).

NOTES my mother at times would only go to one deli to buy salads like potato, macaroni, and cold slaw then somewhere else for the cold cuts and then it was off to the bakery for the rolls and rye bread. I guess we are a picky bunch when it comes to food. P.S., Even the pickles came from a special pickle store!

Suggestions: heat 1 cup water, 1 cup white vinegar, ½ cup sugar in a small sauce pan. Pour warm over potatoes and marinate overnight. Drain and make salad.

Use a waxy white skinned potato type as they tend to hold together better then russets.

Pappardelle

May 25, 2021

            The coffee is on; it is going to be a good day. That and there is a big pile of mulch in my driveway. That means I have joined the local gym by default. I will also be going to acupuncture this morning. If you asked me just five years ago if I would be having needles stuck in my body I would say what in the world did I ever do to you, but since then I witnessed its miraculous effects on others and decided to give it a try. All I can say is it works for me but I believed that it would. I also believe that the mind is a powerful thing that helps keep you healthy or can make you feel worse.  Enough philosophy before my first cup of coffee and so early in the morning. Let’s talk about food.

            Last night I asked the never ending question: “What do you want for dinner?” The reply came quickly. “Pappardelle in pink sauce.” I guess this pink sauce stuff is a hit. I paused pondering how in the world I was going to make Pappardelle when all I have ever used was fresh pasta that I purchased at Pastosa. Pastosa is the local store that sells mostly fresh pasta of all kinds.

            I blinked pondering all the ingredients my pantry. That is when Jennifer said, “We have some in the cabinet.”  An image of pasta flew into my brain. See, it a powerful thing if you don’t go killing your brain cells with alcohol every weekend. See kids don’t drink! Where was I? Oh yeah, so I went downstairs to discover that we did in fact have said item in the cabinet and it was a dried pasta from Trader Joe’s in a plastic bag. Their stuff is usually pretty good so what the hell, let’s make it for dinner.

            I put up the water to boil and defrosted my last quart of homemade meat sauce. Now traditionally I wound have used this sauce right on the pappardelle but as luck would have it I had heavy cream. I also like the pink sauce because my stomach has been cranky and mad at me so I too opted for the cream sauce just like it was suggested.

            I opened the fringe to pick out a vegetable. My mother ALWAYS yelled at me when I was a kid for standing in front of the refrigerator and just staring into it. This happened more so particularly during the summer. We had no central air conditioner in the house and it got warm in the kitchen somedays. Staring in and at first glance, I spied the Zucchini. This old stand by was my first thought as a side dish. Then I saw not one but TWO bags of prewashed baby spinach. Regular spinach can be a bare to wash and get the sand out of but prewashed baby spinach is easy peazy. I got out my big ass All-Clad pan and added two cloves of sliced garlic to it. I added two tablespoons of butter and two tablespoons olive oil. Then turned the heat on low. I headed it up slowly until it started to sizzle and then turned off the heat. I let it sit like that, as I waited for that dam water to boil and the sauce to defrost. Time for a beer I thought. Dam no Peroni.

            I put the defrosted sauce in a medium saucepot and heated it up over medium high heat. Making sure to stir it and then turn it down to low once it came to a simmer.

            I spied the French bread on the counter and thought Mmmm garlicky bread. I buttered it up. Sprinkled it with garlic power. Then stuck it under the broiler to turn a lovely shade of brown. Then turned off the oven but kept the bread warm in it. Making sure it was not still toasting.

            The water was boiling by now. Add pasta. Set timer to package directions. I turned the pan on high heat and added half the spinach to the pan. Then began to sauté it in the garlic, olive oil, and butter. Yum!

            I added butter and cream to the sauce. I left it on low heat as the pasta cooked. It would not be long now. The first batch of spinach cooked down a quiet a bit and I added the second half to the pan. I add salt and fresh ground black pepper, then tossed it coating the spinach very quickly with the butter, olive oil and garlic. Then I turned off the heat. I did not want it all to be mushy so some leaves were just covets with the oil and garlic.

            Ding! The pasta was done. Drain and plate. Mix a ½ cup of grated parmesan cheese into the sauce now and pour over pasta. Plate the Spinach. Cut bread & plate. Serve with crushed red pepper on the side

            Now most people would call this Italian food. As Americans, we change everything. So weather its food from a country of our lineage or a country we would just like to go visit (like Italy) or a country we would probably never go to but are willing to try the food from, like Humus. We change it, adopt it to our life style and then make it for family and friends when it is good. Did you know that if it weren’t for the solders coming back from Italy after WWII and starting the first Pizza places in places like NY we would never have pizza here in America! What is more American then New York City Pizza? I have not tried pizza it in Chicago yet but plan too one day!

            Pappardelle, that was what was for dinner last night. Time for me to run and start my day. I hope you get to enjoy this meal. I found it tasty with a small glass of of red wine. Shhh it was from France but it was still good and went well!

            Until tomorrow stay healthy, be happy and eat well!

            The Drunken Chef (Russ)